A study by researchers at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh finds that women who are deficient in vitamin D early in their pregnancies are more likely than other women to give birth to low-weight babies. The study found that mothers with low levels of vitamin D during their first 26 weeks of pregnancy delivered babies that were on average 46 grams lighter than mothers who were not deficient in vitamin D. Only full-term babies were included in the data.
Alison Gernand, a postdoctoral associate in the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the study, stated, “A mother’s vitamin D level early in pregnancy may impact the growth of her baby later in pregnancy. Also, if the mother was deficient in vitamin D during the first trimester, her baby had twice the risk of suffering from growth restriction in utero.”
The study is of particular importance to Black women. Vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin by exposure to sunlight but due to their darker skin African American women need more exposure to sunlight in order to absorb a sufficient level of vitamin D. About half of Black women in the United States are vitamin D deficient compared to 5 percent of White women.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.